What is the best option for the poor when it comes to the help we provide? What is the best, first step to help lift people out of poverty? Is it meeting their physical needs, helping them find jobs, looking for opportunities for them? The ways in which we can help poor people are limited only by our imagination. But I think we often miss a key component that, if not addressed, dooms most poor people to failure in their attempts to improve their lives.
The neglected key component is how people think. Unless we help them change their attitudes and worldviews, most will be doomed to their current station in life. After meeting their basic needs, the best option for the poor in our work with them is to help them see that there is a better way to approach problems.
Below are just a two of the mental obstacles that keep poor people poor:
Entitlement Mentality: The attitude that someone else should provide for them and fix their problems. This, in my opinion, is the strongest link in the chain that enslaves people in a life of poverty. We must help them realize that, ultimately, they have to take initiative and develop persistence in overcoming their obstacles.
Hopelessness: In homeless people, this is a common problem. Some of my homeless friends have been knocked down so many times, they stop trying, or when they suffer a setback, they medicate themselves with drugs or alcohol or indulge in other destructive behaviors. Encouragement should be a key element of every ministry with the poor. Faith in Christ is also a strong deterrent to hopelessness among the homeless.
So the best option for the poor is to become their friend and help them see that they can make it if they change their thinking. With the right attitude and lots of persistence they CAN win their personal fight against poverty.
God’s grace to you,
Executive Director, Teens Opposing Poverty